It was a chilly day at Bristol Oaks Golf Club on August 31st, especially on hole 15, where the wind comes off the water. However, as Kelly Storti marched up to the tee she wasn’t letting the wind, or the cold, or anything else into her mind. Today was going to be her day. After a scorching round on day one, she had put together a good performance on the front nine and was near the top of the leaderboard as the tournament drew to a close. However, it looked like the monumental task of finishing the back nine and making the turn back to hole 1 to complete her round was getting away from her.
“On the back nine I was kind of struggling, I was missing birdies that should be birdies, but ended up pars. I wasn’t having as many birdies as I was before so I was kind of freaking out a little bit,” she said.
Had it been a less experienced golfer, there might have been a collapse, but Storti stayed strong.
“I was staying calm and relaxed, and very level-headed. It’s kind of just how everything worked.”
Storti stepped up to the tee for the same pre-shot routine she used every time, calm and collected. She hit her shot well, over the water hazard and onto the green. On the next stroke, she put the ball in the hole for a birdie. Like a surgeon moving methodically through an operation, she moved on to hole 16, a straightaway, and birdied it as well.
“I was doing a lot of positive self talk throughout a lot of the back nine. Once I had those back-to-back birdies, I pretty much knew what I was shooting on the back,” she said. “I made the turn and it was my last hole, and I just told myself you have this shot right here. Don’t focus on the outcome, don’t focus on anything else. Just finish out this hole and figure out what you shot after.”
Without anything in her mind but technique, Storti sank the last hole with precision, finishing her round with another 76 and matching the day before.
“First of all I was really happy with how I did. I really knew that that’s how every single round of golf should feel because I was just so level headed. I knew exactly what I was doing. If I had a bad shot I had a bad shot, and just came back the next shot or the next hole.”
Still, Storti didn’t know how she compared to her opponents.
“I was actually tied for first place with a girl who is one of our biggest rival schools, UW-Stout,” said Storti. “I didn’t really know if I was going to win, if I won the scorecard play-off.”
Once all golfers have completed their round, the judges post winners on a large leaderboard.
“When they were putting up everyone’s score I was just paying attention to what they were doing with the other girl and I,” said Storti, as excitement grew in her voice. “I eventually saw that they put first place by my name and then I knew that I won the scorecard playoff. I was just really really excited.”
Winning a championship is something every athlete dreams of, and when Storti finally earned her first major championship, it made her journey all the more sweet. Her first thought was simple:
“This is everything that I worked for,” she said. “I’ve been playing golf for years. Since 8th grade. All of the hard work all of the time, all of the practice hours, everything, lessons. All of that has worked up to now this. And this is what I live for, that championship.”